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Why Oil And Gas Taxes Will Not Solve Texas Road Funding Shortfall

Last year, Texas voters approved taking billions of dollars in oil and gas taxes and using them to build highways. Now, lawmakers are warning that the money won’t solve a huge shortfall.



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Large hole on FM road


Traffic on Texas highways is up more than 200 percent in the last few decades but the highway system has grown by only a scant 20 percent. Catching up will be costly said Joe Weber, executive director of the Texas Department.

“For our roadway infrastructure alone we need at least an additional five billion a year to meet existing demands,” Weber told the House Transportation Committee.

Weber said $1 billion is needed just to fix roads torn up by the oil & gas drilling industry.

Voters last November passed Proposition 1 that now allows a portion of the tax on oil & gas production to go to roads. That amounted to $1.7 billion dollars for this year’s state budget. But with the price of oil half what it was a year ago, those taxes will fall too.

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Governor Greg Abbott has a plan to also divert taxes from vehicle sales to the road fund. Yet the total will still likely be a billion short of all that TxDOT says it needs.

Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said there’ll be no quick fixes.

“I think we will make progress but even if we had the money today you know as well as I do, it takes years to implement a lot of this stuff,” said Pickett.

Bottom line: It’s a rough future for funding Texas’s rough roads.